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  1. Co-Compartmentation of Terpene Biosynthesis and Storage via Synthetic Droplet

    Traditional bioproduct engineering focuses on pathway optimization, yet is often complicated by product inhibition, downstream consumption, and the toxicity of certain products. Here, we present the co-compartmentation of biosynthesis and storage via a synthetic droplet as an effective new strategy to improve the bioproduct yield, with squalene as a model compound. A hydrophobic protein was designed and introduced into the tobacco chloroplast to generate a synthetic droplet for terpene storage. Simultaneously, squalene biosynthesis enzymes were introduced to chloroplasts together with the droplet-forming protein to co-compartmentalize the biosynthesis and storage of squalene. The strategy has enabled a record yield of squalenemore » at 2.6 mg/g fresh weight without compromising plant growth. Confocal fluorescent microscopy imaging, stimulated Raman scattering microscopy, and droplet composition analysis confirmed the formation of synthetic storage droplet in chloroplast. The co-compartmentation of synthetic storage droplet with a targeted metabolic pathway engineering represents a new strategy for enhancing bioproduct yield.« less
  2. Filling gaps in bacterial amino acid biosynthesis pathways with high-throughput genetics

    For many bacteria with sequenced genomes, we do not understand how they synthesize some amino acids. This makes it challenging to reconstruct their metabolism, and has led to speculation that bacteria might be cross-feeding amino acids. Here, we studied heterotrophic bacteria from 10 different genera that grow without added amino acids even though an automated tool predicts that the bacteria have gaps in their amino acid synthesis pathways. Across these bacteria, there were 11 gaps in their amino acid biosynthesis pathways that we could not fill using current knowledge. Using genome-wide mutant fitness data, we identified novel enzymes that fillmore » 9 of the 11 gaps and hence explain the biosynthesis of methionine, threonine, serine, or histidine by bacteria from six genera. We also found that the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio vulgaris synthesizes homocysteine (which is a precursor to methionine) by using DUF39, NIL/ferredoxin, and COG2122 proteins, and that homoserine is not an intermediate in this pathway. Our results suggest that most free-living bacteria can likely make all 20 amino acids and illustrate how high-throughput genetics can uncover previously-unknown amino acid biosynthesis genes.« less
  3. Overexpression of a Domain of Unknown Function 231-containing protein increases O-xylan acetylation and cellulose biosynthesis in Populus

    Here, Domain of Unknown Function 231-containing proteins (DUF231) are plant specific and their function is largely unknown. Studies in the model plants Arabidopsis and rice suggested that some DUF231 proteins act in the process of O-acetyl substitution of hemicellulose and esterification of pectin. However, little is known about the function of DUF231 proteins in woody plant species. This study provides evidence supporting that one member of DUF231 family proteins in the woody perennial plant Populus deltoides (genotype WV94), PdDUF231A, has a role in the acetylation of xylan and affects cellulose biosynthesis. A total of 52 DUF231-containing proteins were identified inmore » the Populus genome. In P. deltoides transgenic lines overexpressing PdDUF231A ( OXPdDUF231A), glucose and cellulose contents were increased. Consistent with these results, the transcript levels of cellulose biosynthesis-related genes were increased in the OXPdDUF231A transgenic lines. Furthermore, the relative content of total acetylated xylan was increased in the OXPdDUF231A transgenic lines. Enzymatic saccharification assays revealed that the rate of glucose release increased in OXPdDUF231A transgenic lines. Plant biomass productivity was also increased in OXPdDUF231A transgenic lines. In conclusion, these results suggest that PdDUF231A affects cellulose biosynthesis and plays a role in the acetylation of xylan. PdDUF231A is a promising target for genetic modification for biofuel production because biomass productivity and compositional quality can be simultaneously improved through overexpression.« less
  4. Characterization of Indole-3-acetic Acid Biosynthesis and the Effects of This Phytohormone on the Proteome of the Plant-Associated Microbe Pantoea sp. YR343

    Here, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) plays a central role in plant growth and development, and many plant-associated microbes produce IAA using tryptophan as the precursor. Using genomic analyses, we predicted that Pantoea sp. YR343, a microbe isolated from Populus deltoides, synthesizes IAA using the indole-3-pyruvate (IPA) pathway. To better understand IAA biosynthesis and the effects of IAA exposure on cell physiology, we characterized proteomes of Pantoea sp. YR343 grown in the presence of tryptophan or IAA. Exposure to IAA resulted in upregulation of proteins predicted to function in carbohydrate and amino acid transport and exopolysaccharide (EPS) biosynthesis. Metabolite profiles of wild-typemore » cells showed the production of IPA, IAA, and tryptophol, consistent with an active IPA pathway. Finally, we constructed an ΔipdC mutant that showed the elimination of tryptophol, consistent with a loss of IpdC activity, but was still able to produce IAA (20% of wild-type levels). Although we failed to detect intermediates from other known IAA biosynthetic pathways, this result suggests the possibility of an alternate pathway or the production of IAA by a nonenzymatic route in Pantoea sp. YR343. The Δ ipdC mutant was able to efficiently colonize poplar, suggesting that an active IPA pathway is not required for plant association.« less
  5. Crystal Structure of Thioesterase SgcE10 Supporting Common Polyene Intermediates in 9- and 10-Membered Enediyne Core Biosynthesis

    Enediynes are potent natural product anticancer antibiotics, and are classified as 9- or 10-membered according to the size of their enediyne core carbon skeleton. Both 9- and 10-membered enediyne cores are biosynthesized by the enediyne polyketide synthase (PKSE), thioesterase (TE), and PKSE-associated enzymes. Though the divergence between 9- and 10-membered enediyne core biosynthesis remains unclear, it has been observed that nascent polyketide intermediates, tethered to the acyl carrier protein (ACP) domain of PKSE, could be released by TE in the absence of the PKSE-associated enzymes. Here, we determined the crystal structure of SgcE10, the TE that participates in the biosynthesismore » of the 9-membered enediyne C-1027. Structural comparison of SgcE10 with CalE7 and DynE7, two TEs that participate in the biosynthesis of the 10-membered enediynes calicheamicin and dynemicin, respectively, revealed that they share a common α/β hot-dog fold. The amino acids involved in both substrate binding and catalysis are conserved among SgcE10, CalE7, and DynE7. The volume and the shape of the substrate-binding channel and active site in SgcE10, CalE7, and DynE7 confirm that TEs from both 9- and 10-membered enediyne biosynthetic machineries bind the linear form of similar ACP-tethered polyene intermediates. Taken together, our findings further support the proposal that the divergence between 9- and 10-membered enediyne core biosynthesis occurs beyond PKSE and TE catalysis.« less
  6. Biochemical Characterization of β-Amino Acid Incorporation in Fluvirucin B 2 Biosynthesis

    Naturally occurring lactams, such as the polyketide-derived macrolactams, provide a diverse class of natural products that could enhance existing chemically produced lactams. While β-amino acid loading in the fluvirucin B 2 polyketide pathway has been proposed by a previously identified putative biosynthetic gene cluster, biochemical characterization of the complete loading enzymes has not been described. In this paper, we elucidate the complete biosynthetic pathway of the β-amino acid loading pathway in fluvirucin B 2 biosynthesis. We demonstrate the promiscuity of the loading pathway to utilize a range of amino acids and further illustrate the ability to introduce non-native acyl transferasesmore » to selectively transfer β-amino acids onto a PKS loading platform. The results presented here provide a detailed biochemical description of β-amino acid selection and will further aid in future efforts to develop engineered lactam-producing PKS platforms.« less
  7. Improving wood properties for wood utilization through multi-omics integration in lignin biosynthesis

    A multi-omics quantitative integrative analysis of lignin biosynthesis can advance the strategic engineering of wood for timber, pulp, and biofuels. Lignin is polymerized from three monomers (monolignols) produced by a grid-like pathway. The pathway in wood formation of Populus trichocarpa has at least 21 genes, encoding enzymes that mediate 37 reactions on 24 metabolites, leading to lignin and affecting wood properties. We perturb these 21 pathway genes and integrate transcriptomic, proteomic, fluxomic and phenomic data from 221 lines selected from ~2000 transgenics (6-month-old). The integrative analysis estimates how changing expression of pathway gene or gene combination affects protein abundance, metabolic-flux,more » metabolite concentrations, and 25 wood traits, including lignin, tree-growth, density, strength, and saccharification. The analysis then predicts improvements in any of these 25 traits individually or in combinations, through engineering expression of specific monolignol genes. The analysis may lead to greater understanding of other pathways for improved growth and adaptation.« less
  8. Engineering β-oxidation in Yarrowia lipolytica for methyl ketone production

    Medium- and long-chain methyl ketones are fatty acid-derived compounds that can be used as biofuel blending agents, flavors and fragrances. However, their large-scale production from sustainable feedstocks is currently limited due to the lack of robust microbial biocatalysts. The oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica is a promising biorefinery platform strain for the production of methyl ketones from renewable lignocellulosic biomass due to its natively high flux towards fatty acid biosynthesis. In this study, we report the metabolic engineering of Y. lipolytica to produce long- and very long-chain methyl ketones. Truncation of peroxisomal ..beta..-oxidation by chromosomal deletion of pot1 resulted in themore » biosynthesis of saturated, mono-, and diunsaturated methyl ketones in the C13-C23 range. Additional overexpression and peroxisomal targeting of a heterologous bacterial methyl ketone biosynthesis pathway yielded an initial titer of 151.5 mg/L of saturated methyl ketones. Dissolved oxygen concentrations in the cultures were found to substantially impact cell morphology and methyl ketone biosynthesis. Bioreactor cultivation under optimized conditions resulted in a titer of 314.8 mg/L of total methyl ketones, representing more than a 6000-fold increase over the parental strain. This work highlights the potential of Y. lipolytica to serve as chassis organism for the biosynthesis of acyl-thioester derived long- and very long-chain methyl ketones.« less
  9. Fatty acid biosynthesis pathways in Methylomicrobium buryatense 5G(B1)

    Methane utilization by methanotrophic bacteria is an attractive application for biotechnological conversion of natural or biogas into high-added-value products. Haloalcaliphilic methanotrophic bacteria belonging to the genus Methylomicrobium are among the most promising strains for methane-based biotechnology, providing easy and inexpensive cultivation, rapid growth, and the availability of established genetic tools. A number of methane bioconversions using these microbial cultures have been discussed, including the derivation of biodiesel, alkanes, and OMEGA-3 supplements. These compounds are derived from bacterial fatty acid pools. Here, we investigate fatty acid biosynthesis in Methylomicrobium buryatense 5G(B1). Most of the genes homologous to typical Type II fattymore » acid biosynthesis pathways could be annotated by bioinformatics analyses, with the exception of FA transport and regulatory elements. Different approaches for improving fatty acid accumulation were investigated. These studies indicated that both fatty acid degradation and acetyl- and malonyl-CoA levels are bottlenecks for higher level fatty acid production. The best strain generated in this study synthesizes 111 ± 2 mg/gDCW of extractable fatty acids, which is ~20% more than the original strain. A candidate gene for FA-biosynthesis regulation, farE, was identified and studied. Its deletion resulted in drastic changes to the FA profile, leading to an increased pool of C18-fatty acid methyl ester. The FarE-regulon was further investigated by RNA-seq analysis of gene expression in farE-knockout mutants and farE-overexpressing strains. These gene profiles highlighted a novel set of enzymes and regulators involved in fatty acid biosynthesis. As a result, the gene expression and fatty acid profiles of the different farE-strains support the hypothesis that metabolic fluxes upstream of fatty acid biosynthesis restrict fatty acid production in the methanotroph.« less
  10. OleA Glu117 is key to condensation of two fatty-acyl coenzyme A substrates in long-chain olefin biosynthesis

    In the interest of decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, microbial hydrocarbon biosynthesis pathways are being studied for renewable, tailored production of specialty chemicals and biofuels. One candidate is long-chain olefin biosynthesis, a widespread bacterial pathway that produces waxy hydrocarbons. Found in three- and four-gene clusters, oleABCD encodes the enzymes necessary to produce cis-olefins that differ by alkyl chain length, degree of unsaturation, and alkyl chain branching. The first enzyme in the pathway, OleA, catalyzes the Claisen condensation of two fatty acyl-coenzyme A (CoA) molecules to form a β-keto acid. In this report, the mechanistic role of Xanthomonas campestris OleA Glu117more » is investigated through mutant enzymes. Crystal structures were determined for each mutant as well as their complex with the inhibitor cerulenin. Complemented by substrate modeling, these structures suggest that Glu117 aids in substrate positioning for productive carbon–carbon bond formation. Analysis of acyl-CoA substrate hydrolysis shows diminished activity in all mutants. When the active site lacks an acidic residue in the 117 position, OleA cannot form condensed product, demonstrating that Glu117 has a critical role upstream of the essential condensation reaction. Profiling of pH dependence shows that the apparent pKa for Glu117 is affected by mutagenesis. Taken together, we propose that Glu117 is the general base needed to prime condensation via deprotonation of the second, non-covalently bound substrate during turnover. This is the first example of a member of the thiolase superfamily of condensing enzymes to contain an active site base originating from the second monomer of the dimer.« less
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